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James Abbe

Sadly, I’m too latejazz-age-spotlight2 to publicise the Fashion & Textile Museum’s ‘Jazz Age’ exhibition as it’s in its final few days, but that doesn’t stop me from lauding it as another example of the superb events that the Museum regularly mounts. Last year, Mrs M and friend were raving about the history of swimwear in Riviera Style, and this time the same standard prevailed. I counted no fewer than 73 figures sporting original ladies wear from the start of the 1920s right through to the transition to a less frivolous, post Great Crash, era. I won’t try to give a detailed description – my costumier knowledge just isn’t up to the job, but will let the photos show you what you missed. And if at this point you’re kicking yourself for not having spotted the event, then I can pour insult onto injury as the clothes themselves were accompanied by a complementary display of the photographs of James Abbe, dubbed Photographer of the Jazz Age and living up to the title with a superb selection of shots of actors, actresses and dancers of the time.

The Fashion & Textile Museum is a little off the beaten track in deepest Bermondsey, but located in an up and coming area surrounded by restored warehouses and within easy walking distance of the newly-revamped London Bridge Station. The Museum’s own cafe comes with a strong recommendation from Mrs M and company but, as they were on their Xmas break when we visited, I’ve yet to try it. I can, though, recommend any of the cafes and restaurants along Bermondsey Street, especially the Garrison pub on the corner right next door to the Museum (which also has a film screening room downstairs suitable for vintage movie shows with good food and drink on hand).

It’s rare that you won’t see something in the Museum’s programme of interest to the 20th Century social historian – we’re still gutted at having missed the Horrocks exhibition, but are very tempted by the next main event which is a celebration of the work of Josef Frank – textile designer and leading light of the Mid Century Swedish Modern movement. More lovely fabrics to drool over. The link to the Museum’s website contains all you need to know to plan a visit.

What you have got time to catch, though, is our other New Year treat, the Paul Nash exhibition at Tate Britain. Not quite Mid Century, as he died in 1946, but as an artist who spanned two World Wars, including working as a war artist in both, and spearheaded British modernism in between, there is much to please the eye and tease the social history taste buds. It’s running until 5 March, so there’s not long, but it’s rare that you’ll have so many of his works gathered in one place (and while you’re down on Millbank, there are many other 20th Century gems to track down in the main galleries). Again, the website has all you need to know, but a wee taster of the art on offer is below.

Well, that’s quite enough high culture for the moment. Time to drag myself back down to earth with a spin of some of the new blues comps on Not Now Records – oh, Fopp, why do you tempt me so?